Could an Earthquake Happen along the Mississippi River? Think New Madrid!

A major fault lies below the Mississippi River from Memphis to St. Louis

Intensity graph for the New Madrid fault

With all the coverage of the 7.0 magnitude quake in Haiti, interest has shifted to the USA. Could it happen here?

Find extensive details about the New Madrid earthquake fault and the formation of REELFOOT Lake in Volume 3 of DISCOVER! America's Great River Road.

Cover of Volume 3, DISCOVER! America's Great River Road

Ironically, the New Madrid Fault is a major active fault line that runs approximately from Memphis, Tennessee, to St. Louis, Missouri. On Dec. 16, 1811, this area was hit with an estimated 8.6 magnitude quake on the modern-day Richter scale. A second quake on January 23, 1812 is estimated to have been an 8.4. A THIRD shock on February 7, 1812, is estimated to have been the strongest jolt ever to hit the North American continent at somewhere near 8.7 to 8.9.

We pulled some illuminating facts from Volume 3 of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road… What would an 8.7 magnitude earthquake feel like?

It released energy equal to 150,000,000 tons of TNT. In comparison, the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII equaled 35,000 to 40,000 tons of TNT!!

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